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Currently, I have a bar graph that summarizes 3 regions based on a specific date range (eg: Jan 03, 2012 - Jan 31, 2012)

Each region is based statistically by a couple of factors, the main one being its overall score (5 being the highest)

However, when a user compares the date range to a previous period or year (eg:Jan 03, 2012 - Jan 31, 2012 compare to: Dec 03, 2011 - Dec 31, 2011) I need to showcase a better way of presenting the overall score and percentage change of the 3 regions without making it too confusing. Its very similar to how Google Analytics compares its date ranges.

One solution I have is to keep the bar graph per region specific and let users tab through to see each region date comparison. This keeps the information organized and really easy to understand just in case a user has 3+ regions:

Jan 03, 2012 - Jan 31, 2012
Compare to: Dec 03, 2011 - Dec 31, 2011

[Region 1] [Region 2] [Region 3]
{Region 1 Data Here}

Which charts are best when it comes to this type of information? What if the user wants to see all regions compared at once?

Here is the example i am talking about Mockup

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Do I understand correctly that every "region" shares the same set of data elements that comprise the bar chart? That is, the data could also be organized (using bastardized JSON): {elem1: {region1: val, region2: val, region3: val}, elem2: ...}. Is this an equally valid representation of the data? Also, is the number of regions fixed at three? –  Benjamin Malley Mar 12 '13 at 20:32
    
Here is the link to give you a better understanding. The regions can be as many as 5. With that being said, this could potentially be to many to fit for a overall summarized view. I'm starting to think a percentage change graph would be another solution –  BlazeK Mar 12 '13 at 21:04
    
I see, so the regions are the data elements and are distinct from the date ranges? So flip my question then--is there also a fixed number of date ranges? –  Benjamin Malley Mar 12 '13 at 21:54
    
looking at the mockup, break it into 2 sections. The top where it shows the bar graph is actually being drawn up from only one specified date range (jan3-jan 31) and is not being compared to anything. The bottom section consists of info that is being compared by certain periods, for example: week, 30 days, 6 months, year. So going back to the question, what is the best way to showcase the bottom data (3 regions) in a way that compares the current date range (jan3-jan31) to its previous period (dec3-dec31) accordingly? –  BlazeK Mar 12 '13 at 22:18
    
I'm curious what you think of my answer and whether you think I've understood your problem well enough. –  Benjamin Malley Mar 13 '13 at 1:25
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1 Answer

If I understand your data correctly (and I'm not clear that I do), I recommend that you use a grouped bar chart as shown in this example:

enter image description here

In this example, we're comparing two different years, 2006 & 2007 by placing the corresponding sale counts for each region adjacent to each other. The benefit of a grouped bar chart in this case is that your users will be able to directly compare regions between date ranges (rather than indirectly comparing them by toggling an "active" date range).

It doesn't take much of a leap to see that if you require interactivity, you can make the legends (in this example: robbery, burglary, theft; in your example the date ranges) dynamic. That is, users can toggle certain date ranges on and off and have the bar chart update dynamically.

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